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Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

Once upon a time, in a simpler age, when a player bidding Standard American opened 3N, they meant it. It showed a powerful balanced hand with 25-27 high card points. Those days of honest bidding are long gone, to be replaced by gambling 3N openers. My Acol bidding friends tell me it is the same in Acol. The gambling 3N shows a long (7 or more cards) running minor suit. Depending on agreements, the bidder may or may not have an outside entry. The bidder hopes that partner has a couple of tricks, can stop the suit led, and has at least one card in the long minor to lead to declarer’s hand. Then, presto, nine tricks and game made.
The biggest advantages of the gambling 3N are its preemptive value—it can be very difficult for the opponents to find their best contract—and that 3N sometimes makes. Probably its greatest disadvantage is that it gives the opposition a roadmap to the hands. I was sitting East when this deal came up, with neither side vulnerable and North dealing:


  S: AK862  
  H: K852  
  D: 7  
  C: 865  
S: Q4   S: -
H: Q104   H: 763
D: KJ1098   D: Q63
C: 1097   C: AKQJ432
  S: J109753  
  H: AJ9  
  D: A542  

This was the bidding:

North East South West
P 3N 4S 5C
5S 6C P P
6S All pass    

I opened 3N after North’s pass. South made an aggressive 4S overcall. My partner raised my presumed suit to the five level (if my suit were in fact diamonds, I could always correct). North was happy to raise his partner, in view of his very adequate support for the bid suit. I bid 6C, to raise the ante and North, with the reasonable hope that his partner was void in clubs, made the wise decision to raise to slam.
South ruffed the club lead, pulled trumps in two rounds, played the ace of diamonds and eventually trumped three diamonds on board. He led towards the jack of hearts, to try and make an overtrick, hoping that I held the heart queen. When the finesse failed, he made twelve tricks (6 spades, 2 hearts, the ace of diamonds and three diamond ruffs), and had nearly taken all thirteen. I was left regretting my ill-judged decision to bid 6C, thereby pushing the opponents into a cold small slam made with only 20 high card points between the two hands. Such is bridge in paradise!
Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes all players. We have members from seventeen different countries already. For information on the Club go to the web site If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]

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Bridge in Paradise